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Consumption of whole grains has been associated with a lower risk of lifestyle-related diseases, like type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Because whole grains are rich in phytochemicals and fibers that are metabolized by intestinal microflora, researchers investigated whether the health benefits of whole grains might be attributable to changes in the gut microbiota.

High serum phosphate is an established risk factor for cardiovascular events in patients with chronic kidney disease, and many studies show that high phosphate is a cardiovascular risk factor in the general population. Researchers in the United Kingdom (UK) investigated whether serum phosphate levels are predictive of primary cardiac events in a large UK primary care patient population.

Atopic dermatitis is characterized by a predominance of T helper 2 immune cells over T helper 1 immune cells. One underlying cause of this immunologic imbalance might be compromised gut microbiota with resultant disruption of intestinal barrier function, in turn, leading to type 2 dominant immuno-inflammation. Indeed, it has been shown that patients with atopic dermatitis have a reduced number of butyrate-producing and propionate-producing gut bacteria. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers aimed to evaluate the efficacy of probiotic supplementation for controlling atopic dermatitis symptoms and reducing the need for topical steroids.

Studies suggest that oxidative stress may play a role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The total antioxidant capacity is an estimate of the antioxidant effect of all dietary components. Previous studies have reported that higher total antioxidant capacity is associated with lower risks of metabolic syndrome, abdominal obesity, and hypertension. A study published by Mancini et al. in 2017 is the first prospective study to evaluate the relationship between total antioxidant capacity and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Athletes who engage in prolonged, strenuous, or rapid changes in their exercise routine are at an increased risk for upper respiratory infections (URIs). Previous studies have demonstrated that exercise training sessions can decrease salivary sIgA, which is one of the body’s first line of defenses against pathogens entering the oral cavity. Decreased salivary sIgA is an indication of temporary immune depression and related to an increased risk of URIs.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are dietary carotenoids that cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the macular region of the retina. Lutein is also preferentially taken up by brain tissue and is the carotenoid most consistently related to cognitive function. The cognitive effect of consuming lutein-containing foods, however, has not been explored. Given that avocados provide a highly bioavailable source of lutein, researchers at Tufts University conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the effect of avocado consumption on cognition in older adults.  

Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) is an adaptogenic herb with a tradition of use in Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandha acts to normalize the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulating effects. One human clinical trial in patients with bipolar disorder showed that ashwagandha improved thyroid indices as a secondary outcome.  To further evaluate the effect of ashwagandha on thyroid function, researchers Sharma et al. conducted a small clinical trial in patients in India with subclinical hypothyroidism.  

To better understand whether serum magnesium levels are associated with the risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, researchers conducted a prospective study, which was published in by Kieboom and colleagues in Neurology (2017). The study was embedded within the Rotterdam Study, a large, population-based, prospective study in the Netherlands that has been ongoing since 1990.

Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) disease is a condition characterized by reflux of gastric contents beyond the esophagus (as in GERD) and into the throat. There is no gold standard diagnostic test for LPR. Patients can present with a cough, dysphagia, dysphonia, or other vague symptoms. Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been the pharmacologic treatment of choice for LPR for the last 3 decades, but PPIs can cause numerous adverse effects. The pathophysiology of LPR suggests dietary interventions may be a viable alternative to PPIs.  

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to a spectrum of conditions involving hepatic fat deposition. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] + eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]) has previously shown to improve multiple parameters associated with NAFLD: omega-3s improve insulin sensitivity, lower plasma triglyceride concentrations, and have the potential to decrease liver fat. To further understand the mechanisms by which omega-3 supplementation influences NAFLD, researchers in the United Kingdom conducted a proof-of-concept pilot study.   

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